UK music industry commits to Keychange gender equality pledge

PRS for Music, The Incorporated Society of Musicians, the Featured Artist Coalition, the Association of Independent Music, the Music Managers Forum and the Music Publishers Association join the Ivors Academy, and the Musicians’ Union to commit to gender equality on their boards

Keychange logo

Eight UK trade bodies have signed the Keychange gender equality pledge towards achieving 50% board representation of women and under-represented genders; PRS for Music, The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), the Ivors Academy, the Musicians’ Union, the Featured Artist Coalition (the FAC), the Association of Independent Music (AIM) the Music Managers Forum (the MMF) and the Music Publishers Association (MPA). This commitment follows the Women in CTRL report on music trade bodies, which further highlighted the lack of gender and ethnic diversity in the industry.


PRS for Music is proud to sign the Keychange pledge in a positive step towards rebalancing the scales of gender equality on our Members’ Council. As an organisation, we look to reflect the broad diversity of our members at every level, and we are committed to investing in meaningful and long lasting change through the PRS Foundation and their impactful talent development programmes. We welcome all new signatories of the pledge, alongside the new ambassadors who will help to spread word of the vital work that Keychange achieves across the global music industry.

Andrea C. Martin, CEO, PRS for Music

Over 350 organisations and companies have now signed the Keychange Pledge since its launch in 2017. Today Keychange announces 25 new UK signatories including ATC Live, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Music Publishers Association (the MPA), PRS For Music, Girls I Rate, The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), Gorwelion Horizons, Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), Boudica, Bido Lito!, BLOC+, MMF (Music Managers Forum), Runway Artists, Future Yard, Last Night From Glasgow, Score Draw Music, Off The Record, Baltic Creative, Generator, Scottish Alternative Music Awards (SAMA), Sound City Ipswich, Suffering Fools Records, UPROAR Ensemble and Brighter Sound. AIM, the Ivors Academy and the MU have all previously made pledges for gender equality in their work, and many, including the MPA, have made commitments in other areas of their work.

ATC Live is a booking agency with a roster of more than 350 artists, and with the live sector severely damaged by the pandemic, their pledge shows a commitment to building back a sustainable and diverse industry.


Despite all the challenges that 2020 has brought, at ATC Live we are determined to remain focussed on doing what we can to achieve equality and diversity in our industry. As part of this process we are signing up to the Keychange initiative and will work towards ensuring new additions to our roster and staff include 50% women and underrepresented genders . Every year the important conversation around the balance of festival bills and equality on our stages and across our industry resurfaces. We understand that the festivals can’t book the acts if the agents don’t represent them, so we are committing to playing our part in the process of achieving real change.”

Alex Bruford, Partner, ATC

Furthermore, in collaboration with lead UK partner Sound City, venues from Liverpool are committing to change, including new 350 capacity venue Future Yard, who have just opened during the pandemic with social distancing in place. The venue was founded to instigate positive change in the industry and leverage music as a force for good within the local community. Recognising that women and underrepresented groups will be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, PRS Foundation have extended their pledge; 60% of all music creator grantees will be women, mixed gender groups and gender minority music creators by 2022.


PRS Foundation welcomes the urgent action being taken by the above organisations and companies and urges the rest of the music industry and wider cultural sector to follow their lead to ensure that recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic helps us to build back better. We are presented with a unique opportunity to reset and to ensure that exciting diverse talent and executives from all backgrounds can thrive in the music sector. Rest assured, Keychange will play a big role in pushing for a more inclusive international music industry.

Joe Frankland, CEO, PRS for Music

Keychange is proud to announce the appointment of three new Ambassadors in the UK to further the movement for gender diversity: songwriter and founder of Girls I Rate, Carla Marie Williams, electronic musician planningtorock, and founding Keychange Project Manager Jess Partridge.


It’s important for me to bridge the gap between the UK and Caribbean diaspora, increasing music and culture experiences and opportunities for black womxn. I’m happy to be an ambassador of Keychange pushing to increase our visibility across the music and creative industries

Carla Marie Williams



Achieving gender equality in music is so important and what’s also important is how intersectional that equality is. As a queer, non binary artist I’m very excited to be given the opportunity to be a part of Keychange and work together.




The work achieved so far by Keychange is truly remarkable, not only in the change it's already affected but also the movements it's inspired. I could not be prouder to have had such an incredible opportunity to work on and develop it and cannot wait to see what impacts it has next.”

Jess Partridge


 As campaigners for gender equality in music, Keychange invests in emerging talent with a yearly participation programme, whilst continuing to encourage festivals, conferences and a growing range of music organisations and institutions to sign a pledge to include at least 50% women and under-represented genders in their programming, staffing and beyond by 2022. The current list spans 40 countries and over 350 organisations such as the BBC Proms, the Barbican, Blue Dot Festival, Wide Days, Cheltenham Festivals, the Southbank Centre, FOCUS Wales and more. See the full list here.

In addition to the ongoing Keychange Pledge, 74 participants – a roster made up of emerging artists and innovators within the music industry – are selected each year from across Europe and Canada to take part in international festivals, showcase events, collaborations and a programme of creative labs. Exceptionally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Keychange 2020 participants will see their involvement extended until December 2021, in order to allow for travel and development to take place in the following year, with online mentoring, panels, and workshops run by Capacity Building Lead, Chimes until then. Partners across Europe and Canada will host discussions around the national gender equality climate during 2020. 

The UK’s Keychange participants for 2020/21 are:

Critically-acclaimed and multi-talented anaïs will be performing at a special Keychange edition of GuestHouse, the innovative live streaming platform launched by Sound City earlier in the year.  Mastering engineer Katie Tavini, was nominated at the MPG Awards for Mastering Engineer of the Year and has recently worked with Nadine Shah, We Are Scientists and Pillow Queens (also Keychange participants). Kat Kenedy leads Big Life’s management team and has worked with artists such as London Grammar, Scissor Sisters and current roster Lazy Day and Liz Lawrence. Experimental electronic label-owner and sound artist from Russia via Germany Machine Woman has also appeared on labels such as Ninja Tune and DFA. Welsh-Indian art rocker Emma Damman Thomas has toured extensively with band Islet, including in Japan and has recently moved into focus on new work, which explores race, grief and motherhood. Shekayla Maragh specialises in live music touring, festivals, and interdisciplinary event production, and has recently launched a talent and development agency space for music creatives in the Midlands called CUBE.

Sound City are the lead partner for Keychange in the UK and will host 6 international Keychange participants, as well as the UK participants in 2021. Announcing yesterday the first names for their 2021 line-up, they have committed to gender equality on their line-up. As part of Keychange Week in the UK, Sound City will be hosting Keychange participants Violet Skies, anaïs and Tawiah, presented by PRS for Music, on their GuestHouse platform on Wednesday 23rd September.

As part of this celebration of commitment from the UK music industry, Keychange, along with partners Sound City and sponsors the Musicians Union and Gorwelion Horizons, will explore and highlight the national context of gender equality in 4 panels broadcast via Facebook live:

Thursday 24th September, 12pm - 1pm

Gender and activism in Scotland; Structures for progress

What support systems are there to work towards gender equality and inclusion in the Scottish music industry? What barriers have been ignored or missed and how can we build a more supportive infrastructure in response to recent events? Who should be speaking to who, and how? With:

  • Halina Rifai - Podcaster / Writer / Scottish Women Inventing Music
  • Jenn Butterworth - Musician / The BIT Collective
  • Jess Partridge - Keychange Ambassador / London in Stereo
  • Diljeet Bhachu - The Musicians’ Union

Thursday 24th September, 2pm - 3pm

How can we all make gender equality a reality?

In support of UK Keychange week, forces from Sound City, Brighter Sound, Women in CTRL & Young Guns Network unite to examine the music industry’s attitude to gender equality. Music is an outlet for creativity and enlightening audiences culturally, therefore we should present a diverse and equal platform for all. But what do we want the future of the industry to look like? Diversity needs to be championed on all levels from interns all the way up to board members. This panel will discuss the importance of role models, shaping and encouraging future leaders. It will also delve into the barriers and challenges women face, citing recent studies and reports carried out highlighting the lack of women in board member roles, radio playlists and in the general workplace. Our panel of experts will review the current climate, suggesting solutions and policies for change. It’s time for our voices to collide for a conversation we all need to be part of for the sake of the music and its future leaders. With:

  • Remi Harris MBE - Young Guns Network
  • Lady Ice - Musician
  • Kate Lowes - Brighter Sound/Both Sides Now
  • Becky Ayres - Liverpool Sound City
  • Steven Braines - He.She.They
  • Francine Gorman - Keychange
  • Thursday 24th September, 4pm - 5pm

Thursday 24th September, 4pm - 5pm

Let’s talk about gender baby

The music scene in Northern Ireland has some great organisations working for change that are encouraging more creatives to move (and stay!) in the area. This panel will discuss the current context of gender equality in N.I, what safety nets there are, and any areas of concern/development. With:

  • Charlotte Dryden - Oh Yeah Centre
  • Rosie Le Garsmeur - Creative Europe
  • Jo Wright - Arts Council NI
  • Hannah Peel - Composer / Keychange Mentor
  • Francine Gorman - Keychange

Thursday 24th September, 6pm - 7pm

Mind the Gap! Talent is distributed evenly, opportunities are not!

How are organisations changing to represent the underrepresented in the music industry?

What effect is the 50/50 pledge having on festivals and radio playlists?

What about those resisting the change?  What can be done on a grassroots level?

What about the individual responsibility? What can we do? With:

  • Bethan Elfyn - Gorwelion Horizons
  • Emma Daman Thomas  - Islet / Keychange Participants
  • Maxie Gedge - Keychange
  • Millie Carter - BBC Music Introducing
  • Ffion Wyn - Ladies of Rage
  • Dionne Bennett - Musician / Ladies of Rage
  • Casi Wyn - Musician
  • Jodi Marie - Musician

For more information on Sound City visit

Listen to the UK Keychange artists on Spotify here and on SoundCloud here.

About PRS Foundation

Since 2000 PRS Foundation has given more than £44 million to over 8,500 new music initiatives. 9 out of 12 Mercury Prize 2022 nominees had received PRS Foundation support (including the winner Little Simz) and the charity has supported BRITS, RPS, AIM and Ivors Award-winners.

PRS Foundation supports outstanding talent from all backgrounds, covering the whole of the UK and all genres, with grantee success stories including Little Simz, Wolf Alice, Dave, Sam Fender, Years & Years, AJ Tracey, Anna Meredith, Yola, Glass Animals, Ezra Collective, Jade Bird, Ghetts, Shiva Feshareki, Sarathy Korwar, Floating Points, Nadine Shah, The Fanatix, Imogen Heap, IDLES, Kae Tempest, Kojey Radical and Emily Burns.

Widely respected as an inclusive, collaborative and proactive funding body, PRS Foundation supports an exceptional range of new music activity through direct grants to music creators and through support for pioneering organisations, including venues, festivals, promoters and other talent development organisations. PRS Foundation founded the Women Make Music fund, co-founded global gender equality initiative, Keychange and most recently launched the POWER UP initiative to tackle anti-Black racism in music. 

switching account

Switching your account...